If you're not already acquainted with the U.S. Men's National Team Coach, it's time for a refresher course in Jurgenistory before he battles his home nation on the pitch. Americans who have watched the games thus far have seen coach Jurgen Klinsmann's unique mix of over-emotive sideline antics and thoughtful restraint, which almost make us wish there was a sideline live-cam for the duration of each match. Bu before Jurgen was worrying about Clint Dempsey's nose and yelling about Cristiano Ronaldo's flopping, he was a rising star for the German national team — the same national team he has to beat Thursday morning in the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Like many soccer coaches, Jurgen started his career as a star player. Although he began playing "football" in Germany, he moved to the Italian club Internazionale in 1988, after six successful years with the German club the Stuttgarter Kickers. Once in Italy, he was beloved because of his success, good looks, and ability to speak Italian, but he served out his three-year contract and moved to Monaco, where he spent two years. On the international level, Jurgen was a huge part of the team that drove Germany to a World Cup win in 1990, where he scored three goals. After that, he had four years in the Premier League before retiring from soccer entirely. While in the Premier League, he had one much-lauded year in England, where he made his mark as a funny (and wildly attractive) player. Just look at him.
Then, in 2004, Jurgen decided to try his hand at coaching, leading the young German national team to unexpected success in the 2006 World Cup. But after his success at both the World Cup and with the Bayern Munich team, Klinsmann did not coach the German team in the 2010 World Cup, being replaced by the ridiculously well-paid Joachim Loew. Instead, Jurgen shocked the world by becoming the 35th head coach of the U.S. Men's National Team in the summer of 2011, although after his move to California years before, it shouldn't come as a huge surprise that he took interest in his new home's approach to the sport.
Americans were not at all surprised that the homegrown Bob Bradley was ousted after he allowed Ghana to stomp the U.S. out of the quarterfinals, but the choice to hire an expensive, European coach was unprecedented.
Whatever confused feelings the small cadre of American soccer fans felt, German football fans were surely enraged. They had already expressed this rage when he reformed their soccer program back in the early 2000s, although his success silenced his critics for a while. And although they are doing wonderfully with the already-tried Joachim Loew, you have to wonder how they feel about an American "soccer" team picking up the coach that started them on the path to World Cup success.
Sure, Jurgen and Joachim are good friends, but when asked about the possibility of a pre-arranged draw, Jurgen emphatically confirmed that "Our goal is to beat Germany," and that both teams want to win, not tie. Hopefully he does this dance if we are the victors.
With Jurgen's reputation in the U.S. as a demanding, celebrity-hating coach, we shouldn't doubt his resolve to beat his home country on the pitch. Just ask the the sad, studio-bound Landon Donovan what happens when you try to tango with the boss: his antics before the World Cup qualifying games got him kicked off the team, and Jurgen has never been restrained in condemning Donovan and similarly-famous Clint Dempsey's celebrity status.
Although he champions an independent-thinking "American" style of play, he clearly doubts our judgment when picking celebrity soccer players. Despite his hatred of celebrity, Jurgen is quickly becoming an American World Cup style icon, with multiple thinkpieces devoted to his "suburban dad-casual" style on the field and off. Whether we win, lose, or draw on Thursday, you know Jurgen will be prepared with his criticisms, hand gestures, and perfectly-fitted khakis. You make us believe we can win, Jurgen.